Woman settles lawsuit with North Memorial, hopes for more inclusivity in future jobs

Kayla Vogt has her heart set on a career improving the quality of life of people with disabilities.

In 2020, she applied for a greeter job at North Memorial Hospital. She hoped to get her foot in the door, while learning more about the healthcare system and the needs of its patients. But in a federal lawsuit filed later, Vogt claimed she was refused the job because she is deaf.

"I was not given a chance," Vogt told FOX 9 on Tuesday. "I was devastated."

Vogt has been "profoundly deaf" since birth, the result of a genetic condition requiring her to wear a hearing aid and communicate largely through American Sign Language. However, the second year University of Minnesota graduate student contends she was fully capable of the job at North Memorial, if she had been provided with reasonable accommodations. "But I was not given the opportunity to show that," Vogt said.

This month, North Memorial agreed to pay $180,000 to settle the lawsuit, without admitting any wrongdoing. As part of the settlement, for the next two years North Memorial also agreed to make several changes in its hiring process.

In a statement to FOX 9 on Tuesday, a spokesperson for North Memorial wrote:

North Memorial Health recently reached a settlement agreement with Kaylah Vogt and the EEOC regarding an employment inquiry made through a staffing agency in July, 2020. We recognize that our onboarding processes in place for temporary roles may have been compromised during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and we understand Ms. Vogt’s disappointment in the decisions that were made at that time.

North Memorial Health is committed to our inclusive culture and hiring practices and we embrace the unique contributions, abilities and experiences of each team member and all prospective team members. We have reviewed specific practices following this case and will continue to strive to ensure our customers, our current, past and future team members, and our providers feel valued and respected.

"I am happy with the settlement, because I can move forward," Vogt says.

Still, she hopes the healthcare system can go even further. She wants administrators to use her situation as a lesson on the importance of patiently investigating a person’s disability, to better determine if that person is the right fit for a job. 

"I hope that they realize that people with disabilities can do the job," Vogt said. "They have a lot to offer."

Now Vogt is also working to create a nonprofit called Life Signals, that will support people in similar circumstances, by connecting them with resources and counseling.

"They have a hard time finding a job, or they have a hard time to be taken seriously, to be treated like a human being," Vogt finished.